Isekai anime, defined as a genre where the main character lands in another world, is all the rage right now. Re:Zero or Starting Life From Zero takes place in a high fantasy setting. It follows the adventures of Subaru, a boy from modern Japan. The first character he meets is the half-elf girl Emilia, who is the main heroine of the series. Despite being the main female character, she is unpopular with the Re:Zero community compared to Ram and Rem, twin demon girls who are the other women in Subaru’s life. With the second season of Re:Zero just around the corner, let’s look at reasons why Emilia doesn’t deserve the amount of hate she gets.

Is Emilia Three Dimensional?

One of the most cleverly done mechanics in introducing Emilia is that when she’s helping Subaru in the pilot, the audience has no idea about her situation involving her stolen insignia. This insignia is her key to being able to run in the royal election and if lost forever, she’s stuck. Despite this, she takes time to assist Subaru, who at this stage is still a stranger. This scene is important because viewers learn that Emilia is treated poorly by humans because she resembles an evil witch that terrorized the land. One would think this would make her resent people, but Emilia isn’t the type to do it. Instead, being kind to humans is her method of forgiving them for how they treated her in the past.

Re:Zero Episode 4, The Happy Roswaal Mansion Family, Emilia standing next to Puck
Credit: White Fox Entertainment

Emilia is also coming to terms with this redemption by running in an election to be the next monarch. Through this, she is displaying her ability to move past fears of rejection while her desire to show humans that appearances aren’t everything. Sometimes people who’ve had a difficult life wallow in feeling sorry for themselves. But Emilia has taken this hurdle and turned it into a positive thing by running in the contest. She doesn’t pity or despise humans, she wants to enlighten their ways.

She’s Flawed But Reasonable

While she may not hate people, Emilia holds a certain hidden level of distrust among most. Being an outcast has made her unaccustomed to someone being nice to her. This is what spurs her fight with Subaru; she cannot understand that his intent isn’t malicious, she only sees him at that moment as someone who wants to hurt her.

Re:Zero, Episode 4, The Happy Roswaal Mansion Family, Emilia talks to Subaru
Credit: White Fox Entertainment

Throughout the season she shows a range of emotions all within a reasonable distance. It takes a lot to make her angry, but she knows when it’s time to play and when it’s time to work. For example, in a scene where Puck teases Subaru about his crush Emilia rebukes them for acting immature and arguing over her, but another time joins in on their antics. It’s just that she hates being the center of attention.

Emilia Isn’t Afraid To Be Silly

Emilia comes across as lighthearted during the antics with Puck and Subaru. She teases him playfully many times as well showing a lightheartedness to their friendship. When he shows her things from his world she has no reservations about following him even if she looks funny doing so.

Re:Zero Episode 11, Rem. Emilia in the woods.
Credit: White Fox Entertainment

She takes herself seriously as one should, but never without a healthy dose of self-care. When it comes to her career she’s working hard, but when it’s time for a break she’s all for it. For example during her meeting with the other monarch candidates when Subaru makes a scene, she is angry that he nearly ruined something she worked to get for years. 

She Shines In All Appearances

Towards the latter half of the first season, Emilia’s role somewhat diminishes as Subaru begins to travel with Rem. But quality over quantity is always more important. For example, in a scene where Subaru confesses his feelings for Emilia, she says “That’s the first time I’ve received special treatment that made me happy.”

Re:Zero Episode 25, That's All This Story Is About, Subaru With His Head in Emilia's Lap
Credit: White Fox Entertainment

All this time she has rebuked his gestures because she associates it with her past as an outcast. Saying she appreciates Subaru’s special treatment towards her shows how much she has developed as a character. Sure Rem is the girl who accepts Subaru but that’s exactly the reason she doesn’t compare to Emilia as a character. 

Emilia & Subaru Are Meant To Be

Not only is there little between them but it’s never explained why Rem, who is originally rude towards Subaru randomly changes at one point. After seeing all of this, it’s hard to erase the image of her as a violent demon from the mind. Subaru went through a lot with Emilia and seems to have the most concentrated times of dying there, but she never wanted to hurt him. Rem doesn’t go with him on his adventures because she cares, she sees it as her duty as his servant. She’s not a bad character, there’s just nothing very interesting about her. 

What is interesting is that each time Subaru dies and comes back, his relationship with Emilia plays out similarly. The curse may erase time but it can’t erase the fact that they are fated to meet. They’re fun to watch because a man has never pursued Emilia. Alas, she knows of his crush and dangles herself over him with awkward, inexperienced flirting. She makes it clear that if he wants her, he must earn it. Emilia isn’t someone easy to understand but in just one season she shines from the inside with her big personality, and it’s only a matter of time before it’s even bigger.